Monday, 29 February 2016

Charlotte Sometimes

I've always had a bit of a weakness for a good rock chick - and they don't get much better than Charlotte Hatherley. She first came to our attention when she joined Ash aged just 18 in 1997, playing in front of 50,000 people at the V Festival just a week later! Her time in the band as guitarist and backing vocalist did eventually lead to her writing and singing the odd track. In fact, her first appearance as lead vocalist came on Grey Will Fade, the b-side of There's A Star. So well received was it that it led to Charlotte recording a solo album with the same title.

'Grey Will Fade' is a bloody fantastic pop record, full of skewed rock songs with jagged melodies and razor-sharp riffs. The first track to be released was Kim Wilde, a kind-of tribute to the 80s pop legend. It remains a huge fave of mine (I'll be doing a piece on it in the near future). Other singles Summer and Bastardo are also terrific and for a while I found myself preferring Charlotte's solo stuff to Ash - and given Ash's track record for brilliant singles, that's saying something.

Following the recording of Ash's fourth album 'Meltdown', Charlotte left the band. A year later, her second album 'The Deep Blue' came out. It marked a big change in her sound; a more experimental, progressive approach to the music meant there was little in the way of the pop songs or loud guitars of her work with Ash or her debut solo record. It was certainly a more challenging listen, but there was still room for some cracking tunes in the vein of her first album, especially this one:

Third album 'New Worlds' in 2009 saw a return to the new wave pop sound of 'Grey Will Fade' - my fave Straight Lines sounds like XTC; she'd previously covered This Is Pop! for a b-side - but there was a little more sophistication to this record. White, the lead single, showed how Charlotte was maturing as a songwriter. Mind, its accompanying video - in which she bears a passing resemblance to Chrissie Hynde - had her going backwards, quite literally...

That was her last solo album to date, but she hasn't retired. Charlotte has worked with both Bat For Lashes and KT Tunstall as well as starting the rather good electronic project Sylver Tongue. Last year saw her score the soundtrack for the short film 'The Last Man'. A new solo album has been mentioned, though when we'll see anything from that is guesswork at best for now. Hopefully, we'll get something later in the year.


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